The Yankees shouldn’t count on signing Cliff Lee

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Not if Chuck Greenberg has anything to say about it. Which he did a few minutes ago, when he told writers at the Rangers-Yankees game that Texas is prepared to bid competitively for Cliff Lee this winter. His words: “we’re not going into it with a peashooter.”

The Rangers just signed a big TV deal. If they take care of Yankee business today, Friday or Saturday, the World Series juju will no doubt lead to a nice uptick in season ticket sales. And of course, you can never underestimate the ego and competitiveness of a pro sports owner in Texas. In a town where Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban make headlines for putting an extra cream in their coffee, you can bet that part of Chuck Greenberg really wants to make a splash.

And if you’re Cliff Lee — Arkansas native Cliff Lee — wouldn’t you rather face the anemic AL West offenses all season as a team’s bona fide ace than to head to the AL East where the competition is tougher and where, if you have one bad season, you’re cast as a goat a la A.J. Burnett.

But I’m just speculating in a vacuum here. Who knows what motivates ballplayers to choose the teams they choose, at least if the money is roughly equal. All I know is that it will be nice if the Yankees have some competition for Lee’s services this offseason. Especially if that competition comes from a Texas Rangers team that has, in the space of a little over a week, catapulted itself into the national limelight.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.